Thursday, March 03, 2016

Can we talk about the tomfoolery that is Zoe Saldana playing Nina Simone?

Zoe Saldana as Nina Simone mirrors my expression after watching the Nina Simone trailer. #FreeNinaSimone

The Advoc8te likes to think she is up to date on current events but somehow I had missed the news a few years back that Zoe Saldana was tapped to place the great Nina Simone in a biopic. When my friend first told me Saldana had been cast I was like, "Wait, you mean Zoe Saldana from the 'Columbiana' movie? The woman that was the voice of Neytiri in Avatar?!" 

My friend nodded with the smirk that only comes with top-rated foolishness.

I made her go on the internet and bring up her photo to make sure we were talking about the same person.

I like to think I can keep an open mind about things. Heck, Nicole Kidman put on a fake nose for 'The Hours' and won a damn Oscar. Surely, if Zoe Saldana was cast for Nina Simone (who let's face it looks nothing like Nina Simone) it must have been done with taste, honor and perfect makeup and wardrobe. 

Then I saw the trailer. 

If the producers had cast Zoe dressed as Neytiri from Avatar it would have looked and felt less offensive. 

I can't. I just can't. It's not just that the dark makeup they applied to Zoe's face looked bad -- and I mean horribly bad (like she had been left too long in an Easy Bake oven).  And the hair pieces used to mimic "coarse" hair looked like dryer lint (and it did). 

There were two points that really took me out:

1) Unless I am really slipping in my current affairs there is not a shortage of talented AND brown/dark skinned actresses out there. The endangered species list doesn't include pandas and dark skinned women. For goodness sakes, Shonda Rhimes has made a career out of placing women of color in leading roles on tv. During a time in our history where dark skinned women are just now  being cast in leading roles we couldn't tap one of them? Hollywood had to go all "build-a-black-woman" with makeup, hair pieces and prosethetics? What is this? Toys R Us?! Was Viola Davis busy? Was India Arie kidnapped? (#FreeIndiaArie) Is Jill Scott running to be the Republican Presidential nominee? What the hell happened? Who let this happen? 

2) Nina Simone was fabulous, fierce, talented and beautiful! Hollywood took a beautiful brown actress, Saldana and turned her into a sideshow to play one of the most beautiful and talented musical icons of all time. That is an epic casting fail, no matter how well Zoe Saldana can act. I can still see and I can't see the logic in that. 

If movie magic is about the suspension of belief then the Nina Simone biopic has already failed. Because Black is beautiful -- particularly when it is actually allowed to be Black. 

Now will the real Nina Simone (actress) please stand up?

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